Young students watch a science experiment.

Third-grade students at Agua Dulce Elementary School got to see a whole new side to earth science this spring via a project led by researchers and professors at Texas A&M University’s School of Education and Human Development (SEHD).

Project Virtually-Infused Collaborations for Teaching and Learning Opportunities for Rural Youth (VICTORY) is a STEM-learning research grant designed to enhance science education for Texas rural students in grades 3-5. Agua Dulce Elementary is one of 60 rural Texas schools participating in the three-year project, which offers additional support to increase students’ science literacy, interest in STEM fields, and access to technology.

Project VICTORY also assesses online vs. in-person science instruction and includes take-home, family engagement science activities. The project is led by Drs. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Beverly Irby, and Fuhui Tong of SEHD.

At Agua Dulce Elementary, the project instruction is provided virtually, with Sonia Almeida being one of the participating online teachers. Students are provided with technology and printed curricular materials to boost their learning. Almeida’s class also connected virtually with a scientist to discuss science topics and answer student questions. Almeida noted how much her students have improved in science.

“The kids felt a little more confident or more empowered, and I didn’t have as much of a hard time getting volunteers or getting them to read,” she said. “I feel like it’s really increased their interest in science.”

Starting this fall, Project VICTORY will work with fourth-grade students online. The project team will recruit student and family participants in September.

For more information about VICTORY, please visit